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May 18, 2007 | Page 13

STRIVE doesn't go far enough
Nothing just about "criminal justice"
An error regarding Eritrea

STRIVE doesn't go far enough

A DAY prior to hundreds of thousands of immigrants taking to the streets of the U.S. demanding full equality and a stop to the raids, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), coauthor of the Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy (STRIVE) Act, spoke to an audience of immigrants rights activists and the media in a town hall meeting in New York with about 150 people in attendance.

The meeting was focused on "comprehensive immigration reform" and questions that the immigrant advocates might have. Participants included members of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, New York Civil Participatory Project, International Socialist Organization, Latin American Integration Center and the May 1st Coalition. The meeting was held, ironically, at LaGuardia Community College, which has the highest number of immigrant students in the nation.

Gutiérrez said the "dialogue has started" between the immigrant rights movement and its "allies" in Congress. He argued that we cannot lose the opportunity of passing immigration reform now, and that his proposal was the best bill that takes into account the "securicrats"--those in Congress who argue for the militarization of the border--and the largely working-class immigrant community that wants full legalization.

He also mentioned the horrific effects that the raids have had and the increasing death toll at the borders. In this light, Gutiérrez introduced the STRIVE Act and its main components.

However, the contradictions--between an enforcement-heavy and business-friendly bill, and the goal of taking undocumented workers out of the shadows and giving them the same rights that citizens have--were on display.

A restaurant worker spoke about his experience of being hurt on the job and having to take a sick leave which he was not paid for, and for which his boss threatened to fire him if he did not return to work. He was also skeptical about the prerequisite during the six-year waiting period with the STRIVE visa of having to remain employed and in good "moral" character.

Others in the audience, including Kavitha Pawria of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), questioned Gutiérrez about the STRIVE Act's provision allowing the federal government to "deputize" local law enforcements.

Others questioned whether undocumented workers could afford to pay fines and "touchback" to another country during the 90 days of the application process. Gutiérrez referred to the fines as cheaper than paying union dues within the lapse of six years, and to the ladder as a "vacation."

Although the majority of the audience agreed that with the STRIVE Act, a realistic dialogue has begun between the immigrants rights movement and Congress, everyone was in agreement about demonstrating on May 1 in order to put an end to the raids, and to demand full legalization for the undocumented.
Alvaro Lopez, New York City

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Nothing just about "criminal justice"

KEITH ROSENTHAL'S "Behind the talk about Boston's 'crime wave'" (April 27) is certainly correct that "young people need jobs, well-funded education, health care and control over their lives, not demonization and police abuse."

My work as a community college teacher in Western Massachusetts reminds me on an almost daily basis that capitalism gives Black and Latino youths demonization and police abuse precisely because providing them jobs, well-funded education, health care and control over their lives would lower profits for the bosses.

One of the largest programs where I teach is criminal justice, and the push is on--backed by federal and state grants--to increase Black and Latino enrollments.

Marx analyzed the logic of this administrative initiative in his Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63, writing that crime "takes a part of the redundant population off the labor market" while "the struggle against crime absorbs another part of this population." Who says the revolutionary ideas of Marx are irrelevant?
Mark Clinton, Northampton, Mass.

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An error regarding Eritrea

I JUST finished reading "Have the tables turned on the U.S. in Somalia?" (April 27) by David Whitehouse on your Web site. I believe his analysis is quite balance and appears to have a good grasp of the situation in the region.

However, unfortunately, David has made a comment that somewhat diminished the article and his authority on the subject. His comment that Eritrea was "once supported by the U.S. when the USSR was aligned with Ethiopia's Mengistu Haile Mariam" is incorrect. At no point did the U.S. support Eritrea.

The fiercely independent and anti-imperialist Eritrean socialist rebel groups were more of a concern to U.S. policymakers than the USSR and its Marxist Ethiopian ally Mengistu Haile Mariam. I wish David Whitehouse had avoided this unfortunate error.
Sam, from the Internet

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